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Monday, December 30, 2019

There Is No Impeachment Clock

At Legislative Procedure, Casey Burgat points out that articles of impeachment do not come with a clock:

Other than outlining broad roles of each chamber, the Constitution is famously vague on matters of impeachment, leaving many of the details to be decided within Congress. And House rules do not contain any deadline or expiration clause on the submission of articles. Each chamber sets their own rules on how to conduct their own internal processes, including on matters of impeachment. The rules of one chamber do not apply to the other, just as the family rules in your neighbor’s house have no bearing on yours. So when you hear some arguing that the Senate rules suggest the House must “immediately” submit the articles after being adopted (which is itself a questionable reading of the Senate rules), you should immediately think “the House doesn’t play by the Senate’s rules.”

And as an additional fun fact, impeachment proceedings, including adopted articles of impeachment do not even expire at the end of a Congress. They can carry over, and they have in previous impeachments, including of President Clinton. According to the House practice manual, “the articles of impeachment against Judge Alcee Hastings were presented in the Senate during the second session of the 100th Congress (100–2, Aug. 3, 1988, p 20223) but were still pending trial by the Senate in the 101st Congress, when the House reappointed managers (101–1, Jan. 3, 1989, p 84). The articles of impeachment against President Clinton were presented to the Senate after the Senate had adjourned sine die for the 105th Congress, and the Senate conducted the trial in the 106th Congress.”